A main event filled with weapons and sheer hate-filled intensity? Check. An elimination match where enemies are forced to work together and friends are set opposite each other? Check. A match that gives high-flying daredevils and innately-skilled junior heavyweights time to show off their wares? Check. A showcase for The Undertaker to kill everything in sight, acting less like a stiff-legged zombie and more like an able-bodied guardian of hell? Check.
It was definitely not the WWE of years past, but perhaps most importantly, it wasn't the sugary pap that was the WWE of the recent past. For the bold and refreshing product that emanated from Landover, MD that night, there was optimism that the WWE of the near future was going to be something differently special.
10. Violent By Design
There was definitely a dearth of steady tag teams in WWE in 1995, as evidenced by the fact that champions The Smokin' Gunns didn't even wrestle on the main show, whereas 36 other wrestlers did. But the Gunns *did* wrestle that night, working a dark match against a tag team that ECW fans of the time were all too familiar with.
Less than 24 hours after wrestling The Sandman and 2 Cold Scorpio at the 1995 November to Remember in Philadelphia, Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge of The Public Enemy made the trip to Survivor Series, losing to the Gunns in what was described as a virtual squash match prior to the PPV broadcast. Public Enemy were weighing their options regarding a possible exit from ECW at the time, and would end up bolting for WCW shortly after the new year.
9. Swapping Of The Underdogs
One of the better Survivor Series elimination matches in the history of the event kicked off the 1995 show, pitting Marty Jannetty's Underdogs squad against Chris "Skip" Candido's Bodydonnas team. The match was basically the X Division of 1995, as some truly talented junior heavyweight wrestlers had carte blanche to just let loose with the wrestling for 20 minutes.
There were, however, two substitutions. One the Underdogs team, Bob Holly subbed in for Avatar, who was played by future Hardcore division rival Al Snow. The Avatar role was shelved after a particularly-disastrous TV debut, and Snow went in for character retooling. As for the heel team, 123 Kid appeared as a mystery partner, but actually filled in for Jean-Pierre Lafitte, the future PCO, who was sidelined after hernia surgery, and left the company shortly thereafter.
8. Choice Words
The event was notable for the return of Mr. Perfect, who worked alongside McMahon and Jim Ross in a three-man booth at ringside. Perfect's performance that night was a bit of a mixed bag, though he would cut close to the bone when he made a comment during the opener that seemed innocent, but was actually in reference to a rather dark moment in company history.
When Jannetty snatched Skip and hit him with his patented Rocker Dropper, Perfect quips: "That'll break your neck!" And it had the power to - almost five years earlier, Jannetty performed the move to a preliminary wrestler named Charles Austin, who didn't take the move correctly, and ended up suffering a catastrophic spinal injury as a result. Austin sued both Rockers and WWE, and a jury awarded him $26.7M in the spring of 1994. Wonder if Vince shot Perfect a dirty glare for that one?
7. Revolution Postponed
Another highly enjoyable match at Survivor Series pitted Women's Champion Alundra Blayze and rival Bertha Faye each captaining a team containing six total All Japan Women stars, including Aja Kong, who was to be built up as Blayze's next challenger. Kong and Blayze were on opposite sides of a Raw match taped the next night, but that would be it for the Women's division for three years.
Survivor Series 1995 marked the last appearance of a WWE Women's Champion on PPV until 1998, as Blayze would be released from the company sometime in early December due to cutbacks. This led to her famous re-emergence in WCW as Madusa once more, culminating with her throwing the Women's Championship belt in a wastebasket on an episode of Nitro shortly before Christmas.
6. Farewell To The Beast
One of the only singles matches on the show saw Bam Bam Bigelow put over Goldust, who had just "premiered" one month earlier at the October In Your House. Bigelow had gone from headlining WrestleMania XI against Lawrence Taylor (putting over the legendary linebacker for a cool $250,000 payday) to being middle-of-the-show fodder that could barely keep his head above the surface. Coupled with his discontent with the Kliq, and the writing was on the wall for Bam Bam.
Survivor Series 1995 marked Bigelow's final match with the company, losing to Goldust in approximately eight minutes on his way out. Bigelow secured his release from the company after Survivor Series, with reportedly a year or so left on the deal. He would never return, not even for a one-off, prior to his January 2007 death.
5. Kings Reign For A Long Time
Survivor Series 1995 demonstrated the best way to book Undertaker - have his three partners work feverishly in an eight-man elimination bout, then after a while, tag him in and let him just kill everybody in his way. One by one, Undertaker dispatched of his four Royals opponents - Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and King Mabel (who ran away, taking a countout loss).
If you fast forward just shy of 13 years, the entire Royals team was still with WWE, though Mabel had been there in various tenures. As of the summer of 2008, Triple H and Kane were in the company's upper echelon, Lawler was a commentator on Raw, and Big Daddy V was treading water in ECW before his release that August. And of course, Undertaker still maintained a regular presence as well.
4. A Wild Idea
For the event, WWE employed a creative concept known as a "Wild Card" match. Three babyfaces and five heels were put on random teams, partnering up with enemies, and standing across the ring from allies. It was an interesting idea, a different take on a Survivor Series match, imbued with the sort of friction and chaos that comes from mixing "incompatible species."
The idea for the match came from legendary wrestler-turned-promoter Bill Watts, who briefly worked for McMahon in 1995, attempting to add realism and substance to what had in many ways become a far-too circus-like product. McMahon was apparently appreciative of Watts' earnest attempts to help the company, but the two didn't always see eye to eye, and Watts would leave shortly before Survivor Series, albeit on good-enough terms with McMahon.
3. Pushing The Limits
The WWE Championship match pitting Diesel against Bret Hart would've probably made Bill Watts smile at least a little bit. The gritty no-disqualification scrap saw the use of plenty of weaponry, and even demonstrated some rawness when Diesel dropped some F-bombs during the course of the brawl. As noted earlier, WWE was dipping its toes into ECW/Attitude territory, and the main event was explicit proof of that alternative influence.
But not everyone was happy with the match. A man named Michael Ortman, who worked as WWE's Vice President of Distribution, had the job of keeping WWE's product "presentable" for prospective business partners (as well as keeping lobbyists against TV violence off WWE's back), which included keeping the product rather safe and sanitized. When Ortman watched the match with some Canadian business partners, he was reportedly aghast at the carnage on display. McMahon apparently smoothed things over, saying that it was just a case of two performers getting carried away.
2. Birth Of A Tradition
Speaking of the ECW influence, that brings us to one of the most important spots late in the match: the bump that Hart took through the Spanish announce table. Diesel sent the challenger flying off the apron, crashing through into the "living room" of Carlos Cabrera and Hugo Savinovich, in a visual that WWE fans weren't exactly used to seeing.
And in fact, it was indeed the first time that the Spanish announce table had ever had somebody fly though it. We joke today over how cliched the table-breakings have become, like, "Do people listening to the Spanish feed ever get to listen to an entire show?" and ha ha, and all that. But in 1995, it was far from a cliche occurrence - such a bump was quite novel in WWE.
1. With A Thud
It's a shame that one of WWE's strongest overall pay-per-view outings to that point received such tepid returns from home viewers. I've made note about the sharp declines in Survivor Series buyrates over the last few entries of the series, but this right here marked unprecedented territory for not just events from that chronology, but WWE's major events as a whole.
Survivor Series 1995 did just 128,000 buys. Not only is that the lowest Survivor Series buyrate pre-WWE Network era, but the lowest Big Five pay-per-view buyrate from the same 29-year timeframe. The 150,000 buys done by the 1995 King of the Ring set a new low for Big Five events, but Survivor Series would top (bottom?) it just five months later. Sad, because it was such a fantastic event.